The government of Victoria has recently announced their Budget for 2017/18 and released a series of budget information papers as well as five separate budget papers on the treasurer’s speech, strategy and outlook, service delivery, state capital programme and statement of finances. OpenGov takes a look at the broad overview of the initiatives and plans by the Victorian government which will boost the digital economy from “Budget Paper 3: Service Delivery”. With regards to connecting regional communities, the government is investing AU$45 million to give regional Victorian homes and businesses access to mobile and broadband technologies enabling them to participate in the digital economy.
This will include:
- AU$11 million for the Mobile Black Spots program with a focus on increasing mobile telephone coverage in flood and fire prone areas with poor coverage;
- AU$12 million for projects to support the adaption of internet enabled on-farm technologies in Victoria’s North-West, the Macalister Irrigation District, the Murray-Darling Basin and the Serpentine region;
- AU$7 million for regional enhanced broadband projects in Morwell, North Geelong and Horsham;
- AU$7 million for Digital Economy Plan initiatives to drive innovation and increase the competitiveness of regional industries;
- AU$7 million for free public Wi-Fi in Shepparton and Geelong; and
- AU$1 million to improve regional services through access to government communications infrastructure.
For small business success in the digital economy, the government will support small business through the implementation of the first round of recommendations identified in the Small Business Regulation Review. This includes four areas of focus: access to regulatory information; reform of planning approval processes; reform of food safety regulation; and further improvements to the retail leasing regulatory framework.
Greater use will also be made of digital delivery channels to improve accessibility and enable greater participation of small businesses in events and programs, such as the Small Business Festival Victoria. A business case will be developed for an online platform to place Small Business Victoria’s support services online.
Part of preparing young people for the digital economy is to have good quality digital education – information technology will be upgraded across Victorian government schools to provide reliable access to digital services in the classroom that are essential to teaching and learning. The investment will renew school Wi-Fi and statewide virtual conferencing infrastructure to support more than half a million student computers.
Funding will be provided to increase bandwidth and digital connectivity for rural schools. This initiative will focus on bringing small regional and rural government primary and secondary schools to the same standard of provision as metropolitan schools.
A total of AU$9.4 million has also been allocated for 2017-18 to encourage the innovative use of ICT to improve service delivery and business processes, and provides information and services to Victorian citizens and businesses through digital and other delivery channels.
Read the full Budget Paper on Service Delivery here.